Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi-- the Body of Christ. If you missed Mass this morning you can still make 6:30pm Mass at the Oratory.
This Sunday at the Oratory the Mass will be for the External Solemnity of this Feast, and there will be the great Eucharistic procession and Benediction after 10am High Mass.
I want to post a couple of spiritual items today. First, the Epistle and Gospel of today's Mass. If you are a Bible-believing Christian and do not accept the "hard teaching" in today's Gospel of the reality of the Eucharist as Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity which we must eat to have eternal life, you act as those Jews who left him precisely for this teaching. If you are a Catholic who does accept this but who dares to receive this Lord with mortal sin on your soul, you are warned by St. Paul in the Epistle that you eat and drink condemnation on yourself.
Hard teaching. Tough words. But a merciful call to holiness and to everlasting life.
From the Epistle, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.
And from the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 6:
I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.
The second item comes from one of my favorite spiritual writers, Blessed Columba Marmion:
Though in each mystery of Christ there is enough "shade" to make our faith meritorious, there is also enough light shining to aid our faith. In all of them we see manifested the ineffable union of the divinity with the humanity.
But there is one mystery where both the divinity and the humanity, far from revealing themselves, disappear to our senses. It is the mystery of the Eucharist.
What is there on the altar before the Consecration? A bit of bread, a little wine. And after the Consecration? For the senses-- for touch, sight, taste-- bread and wine still. Faith, only faith, penetrates beneath those veils, to reach the divine reality that is totally hidden there. Without faith, we shall never see anything but bread and wine; we shall not see God; He does not reveal Himself there as He does in the Gospel. We do not see even the man:
On the cross was hid thy Godhead's splendor;
Here they manhood lieth hidden too.
When, during His life on earth, Christ declared Himself to be the Son of God, He gave proof of what He said. One could certainly see that He was a man; but a man whose teaching could only come from God... a man who performed miracles that only God could work... Faith was necessary, but the miracles of Jesus and the sublimity of His doctrine aided the faith of the Jews-- the faith of simple men as well as that of the learned.
In the case of the Eucharist, there is room only for pure faith; faith founded solely on the words of Jesus: "This is my body, this is my blood." The Eucharist is, above all, a "mystery of faith": Mysterium fidei.
That is why in this mystery, more than in all those we have considered up to now, we ought to listen solely to Jesus. Reason is so confounded that those who, in this, do not listen to Christ must say, like the Jews to whom Our Lord promised the Eucharist: "This saying is hard, and who can hear it?" And they went away from Christ's presence. Let us, on the other hand, go to Jesus as did the faithful apostles whom Christ asked on that occasion, "Will you also go away?" and let us say to Him, with Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known that you are the Christ, the Son of God."
Therefore, let us consult Christ on the subject of this mystery. Christ Jesus is Infallible Truth, Eternal Wisdom, Omnipotence. That which He promised-- why should He not have carried it out?
--From Christ in His Mysteries, by Blessed Columba Marmion